Journeyman, veteran, professional vagabond. Even at the young age of 27, all three of those terms apply to quarterback Spergon Wynn.
Wynn, who played the final two years of his college career at Texas State, has bounced around professional football since being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2000. His journey through the professional ranks includes stints with the Browns and the Minnesota Vikings, as well as time with the CFL's British Columbia Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Wynn's newest team is the Toronto Argonauts, who dealt running back Mike Crumb and a second rounder to Winnipeg for Wynn's services.
Again, Wynn is just 27.
The Argonauts' newest acquisition is back in San Marcos this spring, continuing his course work towards his diploma.
â€œThe number one reason I'm back is to get my degree,â€? Wynn said, fulfilling the promise he made while playing at Texas State. â€œOne of the lessons that all the coaches I've been around have stressed is that you're here for football, but you're also here to get your education. I made a couple of promises to (current) Coach (David) Bailiff and (former) Coach (Bob) DeBesse.â€?
Bailiff is clearly pleased that the quarterback, who played while Bailiff was the Bobcats' defensive coordinator, is back to finish up his degree.
â€œThe neat thing is, we have two former NFL athletes out here,â€? Bailiff said. â€œClenton Ballard was also here (another NFL alum who returned to Texas State to complete his degree). It's nice that you can instill in these guys how important their education is. I think it reinforces how important a college education is (to current players).â€?
Of course, it also doesn't hurt Bailiff that he gets an extra set of eyes and ears on the practice field this spring- particularly a set that is entering his seventh year of a professional career.
â€œI'm here to help out as much as I can,â€? Wynn said. â€œI feel like I owe it to these guys to help them because they're in the same place I was a few years ago.â€?
The quarterback's input is an important bonus for Bailiff and his coaching staff.
â€œIt's just great to have a young man here who as been in the NFL,â€? Bailiff said. â€œIt's great for the coaches to talk with him and find out what drills have been helpful. It helps us stay on the cutting edge of things offensively.â€?
Wynn, who was noted for his intelligence in pre-NFL draft evaluations, has been aiding in the execution of quarterback drills. He also offered himself to the Bobcat quarterbacks just after practice if they wanted help with any particular facet of the game. Needless to say, those players took him up on the offer.
â€œAnytime you've got a guy with his credentials coming back, he's not only going to be a great example, but he can show you a lot of things a coach might not see,â€? Texas State quarterback Chase Wasson said. â€œHe's been giving me a lot of one-on-one attention and I can tell it's really benefiting me.â€?
Wynn can certainly provide Texas State players with some perspective. The young quarterback has been through a great deal in the past few years after throwing for 3,497 in his two years at Texas State. Wynn has been forced to uproot nearly every year for a different city and a different team. In a short time, he has transformed himself from a young player out of a Division I-AA school into a mature professional athlete. According to Wynn himself, he is leaps and bounds from where he was in 2000.
â€œMaturity comes with life, and I've been through a whole bunch of life lessons,â€? Wynn said. â€œI've been in their situation before and if they're trying to do something after this (as far as professional football), I can answer pretty much every question they've got.â€?
Of course, part of maturity is facing and overcoming criticism. The Browns drafted Wynn in the sixth round of the 2000 draft, the final quarterback taken before Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, a fact that made Wynn the answer to a trivia question. He also faced a great deal of criticism, because, like many younger quarterbacks, Wynn struggled his first few years under center.
â€œThe criticism is part of the game in general and it comes with doing anything in the spotlight,â€? Wynn said. â€œI've been a lot of places, and I try and take something from everywhere, whether it was a positive or a negative experience.â€?
Wynn, the only quarterback ever drafted into the NFL out of Texas State, truly got an introduction into the life of an NFL passer in Cleveland, where NFL super-veteran Ty Detmer took the precocious young signal-caller under his wing.
â€œTy Detmer was the first guy who really sat down and tried to teach me about the nuances of the game,â€? Wynn said.
Wynn is getting a chance to do much of the same thing this spring at Texas State, helping to bring along a new set of quarterbacks who will look to replace Barrick Nealy, an NFL prospect himself.
â€œWith all the lessons that I've learned, if I can help some of these guys not make some of the mistakes I've made then that's all that really matters,â€? Wynn said.
Wynn is scheduled to graduate in the spring of 2007 with his degree in marketing, and his loyalty to his alma mater extends past the classroom, particularly during last year's successful run to the Division 1-AA semi-finals.
â€œI followed them on the Internet mostly,â€? Wynn said. â€œI tried to keep up with scores and statistics as much as I could. I wish I could've been down here, I heard about a lot of my teammates tailgating and rooting the guys on.â€?
He won't get a chance do that this year either, though, as Wynn must return to the Great White North and the Argonauts for his seventh professional season.
â€œI'm looking forward to it,â€? Wynn said. â€œIt's another chapter in my career and I'm expecting some big things from myself. I can't wait to get that process started.â€?